Associated Press - February 28, 2009 2:34 PM ET
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is paying nearly half of his 29 staff members from departments outside the office of governor.
That's according to the Kansas City Star, which says Nixon also is paying many top aides more than their predecessors received under former Gov. Blunt.
But Nixon administration officials say Blunt, a Republican, forced their hand to take money from other departments by busting the governor's budget before leaving office.
They also defend the six-figure salaries, which they say pay for talent, and come at the expense of several lower-level positions typically employed by the office.
But critics say the salaries are irresponsible during a recession and that putting them in other departments raises accountability and transparency concerns.
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com